Sun, Aug 05, 2012 - Page 8 News List

Time to end these futile charades

By Jerome Keating

Fast-forward to the present. If shop owners on Regent Street, when putting up the flags of all the Olympic nations, had originally put up the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag, most would have probably accepted it and there would have been few protests. However, they did not.

With the ROC flag waving in the wind, officials of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) then commenced their part in the charade. They insisted that Regent Street follow the laws of the Olympic Committee, laws to which Regent Street was not bound. The PRC pressured the British government to get in on the act.

Here comes the crucial part: When the Taiwanese flag was taken down, its space was not immediately filled; the space was left empty. If it were immediately filled with the Chinese Taipei Olympic flag, there would have been some protests, but not what followed.

Leaving the space empty was a slap in the face to the citizens of Taiwan as well as to all who went along with the Chinese Taipei charade. It amounted to saying “you, Taiwan, don’t exist, not even as Chinese Taipei.” That was a stretch too far; it was an absurd pretention that Taiwanese and even British citizens could not accept.

Here was China extending its remit beyond the Olympic rules, and pressuring the British government to support it. For Taiwanese, it was time to tell the Chinese emperors that they had no clothes. They, the Taiwanese, were not only tired of the old pretense, but they also were not going to let China extend it beyond the Olympics.

The Olympics are supposed to be about a common humanity, the competitive spirit, fair play and the fellowship of nations. They have been politicized in the past, but over much more serious matters than Regent Street displaying a flag that China was not happy with.

Here is the irony; by insisting on removing the flag, the PRC not only exposed its role in the whole debacle, but also China’s true face. Meanwhile, by offering only a meek protest, Taiwan’s government ended up seeming weak and powerless.

The people of Regent Street who put up the “wrong flag” must be quietly chuckling with their notoriety.

As a result of all this, instead of disappearing, more and more Taiwan flags have appeared throughout London and Taiwanese athletes are making a point of saying “I am Taiwanese.”

True Taiwanese, as well as other citizens of the world, are saying: “Enough is enough, this is becoming ridiculous.”

Jerome Keating is a commentator in Taipei.

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